Sun Tran bus safety
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Assaults on Sun Tran buses are trending down this year in part because of barriers that protect drivers and because of de-escalation training given to drivers.
Even though assaults are down, half of them are caused by one, not so simple to fix problem - some people just don't pay.
Riders say they see it often.
"I've seen fights on the buses, bus drivers getting spit at, bus drivers getting harassed," said ten year veteran bus rider Bridget Miller.
"I've seen bus drivers get upset and say, hey, you've got to pay your bus fare," said bus passenger Michael Ingram. "And they turn around and say, no."
Sun Tran has spent the past several months conducting a security study and has found one of the biggest issues is how to treat passengers who refuse to pay.
"Ask once" is the general policy but there is an issue with that, according to Steve Spade, the Sun Tran General Manager.
"The problem with ask once and let them ride, is it can be abused," he said. "And you offend people who do pay."
Some drivers are more tolerant than others as well.
Spade said some passengers will say "the driver yesterday let me do this and now you won't."
That's when the situation starts to escalate and trouble begins.
"So what we really have to do is get consistent policies," he said.
Where that may end up is still not decided.
The transit task force, which heard a broad outline of all security issues, has been tasked with helping define policy but won't take up the issue until November.
The Teamster's Union 104, which represents most drivers, is also addressing the issue later this month.
"Safety is a very, very high priority," said Kevin Hampton, a business rep for the union. "A simple polite, request to pay in this day and age, you never know with people."
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